One of the great­est monosynths of the 80s is brought glo­ri­ously back to life by one of our favourite de­vel­op­ers

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A sort of spir­i­tual fol­low-up to the highly ac­claimed Diva (10/10, 178), Re­pro-1 is a com­po­nent-mod­elled em­u­la­tion of one of the most iconic monosynths of the 80s: the Pro One, Se­quen­tial Cir­cuits’ mono­phonic take on the poly­phonic Prophet-5. The in­ter­face cen­tres on the Synth page, which recre­ates – al­beit with a few ad­di­tions and changes – the look and lay­out of the Pro One. Be­hind that are the Tweaks page, Se­quencer panel and Pre­sets browser, the last hous­ing 500 patches, in­clud­ing all 20 of those printed in the Pro One man­ual.

Re­pro head

Be­ing es­sen­tially a 35-year-old de­sign, it should come as no sur­prise that Re­pro-1’s ar­chi­tec­ture is com­par­a­tively ba­sic. In a nut­shell, two mono­phonic os­cil­la­tors and a low-pass fil­ter are brought to life by a hand­ful of mod­u­la­tion sources, an arpeg­gia­tor and a step se­quencer, and pro­cessed with a quin­tet of newly added ef­fects mod­ules, all from a sin­gle panel. u-he haven’t worked in a poly­phonic mode of any kind, so you won’t be mak­ing pads with it any time soon – it’s still all about mono basses, leads, plucks, drums and such­like.

Os­cil­la­tor A out­puts saw and/or pulse waves, while Osc B gen­er­ates saw, tri­an­gle and pulse waves. Pulse width knobs al­ter the duty cy­cles of the pulse waves, os­cil­la­tor A is hard syn­ca­ble to Osc B, and Osc B’s Lo Freq set­ting slows it down to sub-au­di­ble speeds for use as a sec­ond LFO. The out­puts of the two os­cil­la­tors are blended in the Mixer sec­tion, along with a white noise gen­er­a­tor or bass-boost­ing feed­back cir­cuit.

The 24dB/oc­tave res­o­nant low-pass fil­ter is edgy and sharp, self-os­cil­lates like a champ, and is open to mod­u­la­tion by key track­ing, its own ded­i­cated ADSR en­ve­lope and more (see be­low).

“Two mono­phonic os­cil­la­tors and a low­pass fil­ter are brought to life by a hand­ful of mod­u­la­tion sources…”

Pro plus

The mod­u­la­tion op­tions in the Synth page mir­ror those of the Pro One ex­actly. First, there’s an ADSR en­ve­lope hard­wired to the amp, with ad­justable curve. Then there are three routable mod sources – the Fil­ter En­ve­lope, the out­put of Osc B and an LFO (with host sync and the same three mix­able wave­forms as Osc B) – each

of which can mod­u­late any of five pos­si­ble tar­gets: the Fre­quency and Pulse Width of both os­cil­la­tors, and the Fil­ter cut­off. The out­put sig­nal from each source is sent to ei­ther of two busses – Di­rect and (mod) Wheel – and each des­ti­na­tion is set to ‘re­ceive’ on one or the other of said busses, mak­ing it easy to mix reg­u­lar and wheel-mod­u­lated move­ments.

The Per­form sec­tion next to the key­board steps out­side the Pro One tem­plate by adding a pair of open-ended mod­u­la­tion pair­ings, linking two from an as­sort­ment of sources (Trig­ger, Gate, Ex­pres­sion, LFO, Key Fol­low, Ve­loc­ity, Aftertouch, Amp En­ve­lope, the ASR/AR en­ve­lope of the Jaws ef­fect, etc) to any synth and ef­fects con­trols via drag and drop.

The Arpeg­gia­tor is as rudi­men­tary as they get, with just Up and Up/Down di­rec­tional op­tions and a Latch switch (which at least im­proves on the kludged latch­ing of the Pro One). The step se­quencer gen­tly ex­pands on the real thing by up­ping the max­i­mum steps from 40 to 64 (in two al­ter­nat­ing banks of up to 32 steps each), and adding per-step ve­loc­ity, tie steps, and a Rest but­ton for adding gaps when step-record­ing se­quences. Of course, it’s also pro­grammed in its own win­dow, rather than by record­ing notes into an ‘in­vis­i­ble’ mem­ory bank that wipes it­self when you ac­ci­den­tally ex­ceeded its 40-note limit…

At the bot­tom of the in­ter­face, tabbed along­side the key­board, is a se­ries of five ef­fects mod­ules that ob­vi­ously broaden Re­pro-1’s re­mit far be­yond that of the Pro One. Jaws is an awe­some en­ve­lope/LFO-mod­u­lated wave­folder that serves up stun­ning dis­tor­tion and FM-style noises, and that u-he re­ally ought to re­lease sep­a­rately; Lyre­bird is a ‘bucket bri­gade’ de­lay/cho­rus/flanger; RESQ works as a semi­para­met­ric three-band EQ or triple band-pass res­onator; Drench is a plate re­verb with pre­de­lay; and Sonic Con­di­tioner is a com­bi­na­tion tran­sient shaper and stereo wi­dener/nar­rower. The ef­fects can be re­ar­ranged by drag­ging their by­pass blocks up and down in the FX Chain (alas, the mod­ules them­selves don’t move), and all five sound fan­tas­tic.

Re­pro, man

Re­pro-1 is as good a plugin ver­sion of Se­quen­tial Cir­cuits’ feisty lit­tle monosynth as we’re ever likely to see and hear, de­liv­er­ing all the snap, bite, warmth and soul of the hard­ware, but with the con­ve­nience, flex­i­bil­ity and pric­etag that only soft­ware can bring. Fans of the orig­i­nal will be blown away by the au­then­tic­ity of its sound and re­sponse, and have a ball with the in­te­grated ef­fects and ex­tra mo­du­la­tors; while new­com­ers to this his­toric in­stru­ment will love its easy pro­gram­ming and phat, rich, fo­cused tones. The Tweaks panel en­hance­ments, mean­while, are the ic­ing on the cake, ex­tend­ing the sonic pal­ette in a mean­ing­ful way.

Yes, in ar­chi­tec­tural terms Re­pro-1 is a very sim­ple synth by to­day’s stan­dards, even with the bits and pieces added by u-he, and that may or may not be an is­sue de­pend­ing on your ex­pec­ta­tions and stylis­tic needs. As ever, though, it’s the sound that counts, and in that de­part­ment Re­pro-1 is an un­mit­i­gated suc­cess.

“Re­pro-1 is as good a plugin ver­sion of Se­quen­tial Cir­cuits’ feisty lit­tle monosynth as we’re ever likely to see and hear”

The step se­quencer isn’t as ar­chaic as that of the Pro One, but it’s still a very sim­ple ex­am­ple of its kind

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